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CATALOG > Dedications - Works for Two Violins

János Négyesy
Dedications - Works for Two Violins
Total Time: 73:04
Record Label: Aucourant Records
Catalog Number: AUREC 0010-1
Type: CD
Released: 2000


Seven ground-breaking works for violin duo written expressly for János Négyesy and Päivikki Nykter. The music on this disc describes the current state of the art of violin virtuosity and comtemporary compositional technique.

In the dozen or so years that they have been playing together, Janos Négyesy and Päivikki Nykter have built a reputation for performances of uncommon musicality, warmth, and insight. Their skill, their curiosity, and their deep mutual understanding have made them ideal interpreters of the new music that they have advocated so persuasively and with such commitment. The compositions on this disc, as on Janos' earlier recording of solo Dedications, demonstrate an extraordinary diversity - from the contemplative (Otte) to the raucous (Vérin), from the extended techniques of Burkhardt and Korneitchouk to the seamless textures of Thompson, from Carrick's playfulness to Greene's somber introspection. In each case Janos and Päivikki vividly project the characters of these works and communicate the joy and conversational freedom of their collaboration. - Erik Ulman


Fans here and abroad have routinely come to expect impeccable work from the dynamic duo of Négyesy and Nykter, but this recording is exceptional, even by the duo’s high standards. Stimulated by an exacting–and rewarding–disparity among the seven compositions on the disc (six of them written by current or former UCSD composition students), this husband-and-wife team presents a remarkable display of both instrumental virtuosity and weighty musicality. Though the technical, conceptual, and interpersonal considerations that underlie these pieces run the gamut, each score effectively fosters a symbiosis between composers and performers. These successful collaborations make the entire disc very satisfying. The extreme examples of this phenomenon are, curiously, highlights of the record. Hans Otte’s “Seven Songs,” while conventional in technique, offer a quirky brand of understatement in structure; totaling just over twelve minutes, their delightfully misleading haiku-like simplicity provides opportunities galore for the performers to stretch their tasteful sensitivities to the interplay of balance and phrasing. Contrariwise, Rick Burkhardt’s “The Second Order,” the Lachenmannesque sound worlds (scratches, skips, and unusual percussive sounds) of which make similar issues of lyricism and dialogue too silly to sustain themselves, erects a considerable and intriguing force field to any such gauges of performance. The one violin’s altered tuning and the complex physicality of local extended techniques put the performers in different “zones,” despite the audibly cohesive textures. Naturally, Négyesy and Nykter milk this paradox, and what results is a luminous, deeply exciting theater of coincidence whose catalytic circularity is projected with necessary perfection. On all the tracks, Janos and Paivikki radiate the characteristically thoughtful finesse and refined concentration that is so often missing in music of this scope. For any listener who might like to complete the celebration, this CD is a gem. - reviewed by Chritopher Williams

Program Notes

The violin duo has a long history as a genre, extending from at least as far back as the Baroque period to the present day. The duo has frequently served a pedagogical function, allowing teacher and pupil (or a pair of pupils) to experience the joys and challenges of ensemble playing under the simplest possible conditions. Occasionally, some compositions for violin duo have reached beyond the walls of the practice studio into the realm of high musical art. The collections by Mozart and Bartôk come readily to mind. It is in the spirit of the duo as high art form that the pieces on this recording have been created for the distinguished duo of János Négyesy and Päivikki Nykter. Far from being "practice pieces," the works on this disc reach toward the outer limits of contemporary virtuoso writing for the violin.

Closest in spirit to the historical antecedents in this genre are the Seven Songs by Otte, which were inspired by Négyesy and Nykter's recording of the Bartôk duos. Also remaining true to the history of violin duos as collections of miniatures, but at the opposite extreme stylistically, are Korneitchouk's Short Circuits, of which two out of three volumes are presented here. These miniatures feature extreme discontinuity in their gestures, resembling in this respect Cage's Freeman Etudes. They also challenge conventional notions of ensemble, with each player moving as if in his own orbit. Burkhardt's The Second Order features a comparable variety of playing styles, but with a more readily apparent interaction between the parts.

The remaining works on the disc lie somewhere between Otte's stylistic ties to European tradition and Korneitchouk and Burkhart's Cageian delight in unusual means of sound production. Thompson's Flexure presents a seamless interaction between the instruments, beginning with a Ligetian tangle of intertwining lines in non-coinciding rhythms and proceeding through a variety of perspectives on connectivity in curved spaces. Both Vérin's Chassé-croisé and Carrick's Masculin-Féminin, however, set the players off as opponents to one another. With a touch of wit, Carrick uses quarter-tone scordatura to represent the lack of accord between an ill-fated couple.

Greene's To Look Within adds an element of theater by repositioning the second violin in each section of the piece, thus providing multiple perspectives on a grieving soul's dialog with itself. Alternating between poignant resignation and anguished protest, this piece reaches beyond abstract compositional concerns in pursuit of poetic complexity. Like each of the works on this recording, it represents a transformation of the humble origins of the violin duo into "something rich and strange." How fortunate it is for the composers that in Négyesy and Nykter they have found performers who are able to keep pace with the extremes of their creative imaginations.

- Ronald Squibbs, Ph.D.

Performer Biographies

János Négyesy was born in Budapest, Hungary and studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music and later at Detmold in Germany. He left Hungary in 1965 and from 1970-74 was concertmaster of the Berlin Radio Orchestra. He lived and worked in Paris, Vienna and New York before joining the UCSD faculty in 1979. Long an advocate of new music, Mr. Négyesy has appeared at major festivals throughout the world. In addition to performing, recording and teaching he has written a definitive study of contemporary violin techniques. Recently he has been receiving acclaim for his expertise as master of the Mathews electronic violin. In addition to his interest in new music, he is an exponent of the standard violin repertoire, as well. Some of Mr. Négyesy's landmark recordings included the first European recording of the complete Violin and Piano Sonatas of Charles Ives with pianist Cornelius Cardew and a recording of works specifically dedicated to him by important contemporary composers such as Attila Bozay, Carlos Fariqas, Vinko Globokar, Hans Otte and Isang Yun. He recently recorded Aether, a piece written for him by Roger Reynolds, who also finished a violin concerto for Mr. Négyesy, Personae was premiered in San Diego with the SONOR ensemble in March 1990 and a CD was released Spring 1992. He gave the world premihre of John Cage's Freeman Etudes I-XVI in Torino, Italy in 1984 and XVII-XXXII in Ferrara, Italy in 1991. A double CD of the complete Etudes was released July '95 by Newport Classics Records. The complete Bartôk Duos for two Violins - with Päivikki Nykter - was released by NEUMA Records in June 1993. Dedications - with solo works written especially for Mr. Négyesy - by current and former UCSD students - was released June '96 and a CD with solo compositions by Bartôk, Berio and Xenakis will be available Winter 2000, on AUCOURANT Records and NEUMA Records, respectively.

Päivikki Nykter is a native of Finland and studied at the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki. Ms. Nykter gave her debut performance in 1983, after she was appointed to a principal position with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. She was a founding member of the Finnish contemporary ensemble, AVANTI! and has maintained her passion for new music, premiering numerous works written for her. Her repertoire embraces the great classical works, as well. Her recitals and chamber concerts bring her frequently to Europe, South America, Japan and Canada to international festivals. In February 1997 she was invited to perform at the "Giacinto Scelsi International Festival" in New York City. In 1993 her CD of the complete Violin Duos by Béla Bartôk was released - with János Négyesy - on the NEUMA label. Her latest CD recordings include "Variation Suite" for violin and viola by Will Ogdon on CRI Records- released in 1997 and "Half Silvered" for violin and percussion by Mark Osborn on Upbeat Records - released March 1998. Ms. Nykter is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the University of California San Diego Music Department.


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